Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Bedroom Tax - Shit Happens

We are now a good few months since the bedroom tax was launched. Research in my organisation was inconclusive about the impact on our residents facing cuts in housing benefit for their extra bedrooms.
Of those affected the total debt they owed has stayed steady, but there is also evidence of individuals not paying the shortfall and the debt beginning to rise. But we are a London based organisation. We have a large number of one and two bed properties and have due to massive demand consistently filled our stock to capacity over many years.
The impact of the bedroom tax was never going to even across the country. The North West is already experiencing major problems both with rising arrears debt and the political fall out of their attempts to manage this. In Liverpool some Housing Associations are seen as being party to the policy and facing considerable pressure to reduce the impact.
The problem for many Housing organisations outside London is that they do not have large amounts of small properties and they have been forced to under occupy 3 bed properties rather than leave them standing empty. It is not that the families who live in them wanted to create this situation. What we see is a vice tightening of benefits being cut without there being smaller accommodation for these families to move to.
Of all the welfare reforms this has always appeared to be the most ill considered. Yes, it seems logical over a cappuccino in London to suggest that as there is such huge demand for affordable housing those that wish to under occupy should face some kind of sanction. But it just does not work as a national policy, because the picture is not the same nationally. This has been a slow burn but I sense the mercury is rising.